Ghosts should be minded and NOT feared

We are afraid of the boogeyman, even though i believe we don’t really know who or what he is.  One of the most comical scenes in any movie is when Michael Myers surprises his next victim by wearing a sheet with eyes cut out.  He wore glasses on the outside of the sheet in an attempt to fool his victim into thinking he was her boyfriend.  But what that scene really did was show how we really don’t know of what we are afraid.  Our visions of what we should fear drive us and, while people may not admit to being afraid of ghosts, it is exactly our ghosts that limit us and keep us hoping against hope that some force will emerge in our lives and “save us” from the boogeyman.  But even Michael Myers knew that those primal fears are irrational and even a bit funny.

Ghosts aren’t to be feared, really.  They do their thing, really, and for the most part leave the physical world alone. However, people like me learn to read their messages and then are stuck with having to do something with the information.  Since I tell stories, when I do find a ghost (rather, when a ghost finds me), i have to tell his or her story. I’ve known about this for a really long time, but I haven’t been all that willing to admit that i have this mission.  I’ve come to understand that we all have that ability, it’s just that we ignore and dismiss anything that doesn’t fit into our world view.  This is true, especially when it comes to things of a spiritual nature.  We are often herded into religious frames of reference that can have value, but more often than not exist to control us and make us even more afraid.  Sure, people like Jesus of Nazareth did all they could to teach humanity how the supernatural world works, but then we take his message and box it into what WE think it should be.  Therefore we wander the physical realm like ignorant robots spewing things from our mouths that weren’t our own thoughts in the first place.

I’m not out to be believed. I gave up on that years ago.  If I’ve learned anything over the years of following my writing path it’s that people seek to reinforce their own opinions, regardless of their origin and don’t do much to escape or fold in new learnings such that they own the space between their ears.  The majority of people with whom I’ve come into contact are stuck in an endless loop of reinforcement that they don’t want broken.

So why do I continue to chase windmills as though they’re dragons?  Because I will leave the physical world someday and there needs to be a record of this path of mine such that future generations might actually find the record and realize that past, present, and future are all integrated into one single flow within the supernatural realm and perhaps my descendants, direct or indirect will actually see that someone knew about this integrated time.  In the physical world, time dominates almost all of humanity’s actions, but in the supernatural realm, it doesn’t even exists, which is why when ghosts give us messages, we don’t believe them: Since time doesn’t exists in their world, they approach they physical realm out of context and without context, messages seem like random coincidences that have no reality.

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There’s no such thing as wasted time

A few days ago, someone said to me in reference to her soon-to-be ex-husband, “I can’t believe I wasted the last four years of my life on him.”

Her statement interested me because I’m not now, nor have I ever been, big on the idea of wasted time.  I really think that our experiences are meant to teach us something that we need to learn in order to move forward on our life’s path so I asked her “Why do think you wasted time?”

“Well,” she said. “In the beginning our marriage, he was really cool and sweet and lovable with me, but that only lasted a year.”

“And then how was he?”

“Lousy.  His drinking started getting worse and worse and then he started cheating on me with strippers.  I stayed with him because I kept hoping that he would go back to the way he was in the beginning. ”

“I’m betting he never did.”

“Nope.  He never did.  Our relationship got worse and worse until I couldn’t take it anymore and now it’s over.  I mean, I still love him, I just can’t take it anymore.”

And there it was: The idea of a thing versus the reality of a thing causing conflict within someone.  In my experience, that tends to be a big part of a person’s high level of stress.  We all do it.  There’s not one of us who hasn’t wanted something to be a certain way, but then in learning that the reality of that something doesn’t mesh with our idea of that something, we become conflicted.  Sadness can then emerge as a result of this inner conflict. Then, within the conflict, the time spent appears as wasted.

But again, to me, there’s no such thing as wasted time.

There’s always something to gain from every situation we encounter on this planet.  Whether any given experience is positive or negative, there’s still something that shapes us and that we can then use as we go forward.  Many people take negative experiences, process them as purely negative, and then project that negativity on other experiences they face, going forward.  In time, those experiences feed more negativity into the person’s worldview and then that person becomes bitter towards all of life and actually seeks to create negativity where there is none.

Rather than become bitter, I would argue that negative time isn’t wasted; rather, I think we should try to reconcile our ideas of things with the realities of things and then find ways we can gain positive lessons from our experiences.  So I asked the woman, “Do you love him or the idea of him?”

“Huh?”

“Well, you have an image of him that was true in the beginning of your marriage, but then became less and less real as time went on.  Is that the person you love or this person?”

“Now that you mention it,” she said.  “It was him of the first year that I love.  I can’t stand this version of him.”

“Well,” I said.  “It’s good that you learned how you like to be treated.  Now that you go forward, you know more about what you’re ‘ok’ with and what you’re not ‘ok’ with.  The time you spent with your ex wasn’t wasted; really, you appear to have become a stronger person because you are now ready to move on from a situation that you cannot accept.”

“I had no choice but to become stronger because I was always alone.”

“Still, you’re stronger now than you were.  You can take this strength with you and use it to make things better in all things in your life.  Or you can become bitter about the hurt you’ve felt.  Either way, the time spent will not have been wasted.  It will have been time spent in informing the rest of your life.”

We soon finished the conversation; she seemed to understand.  I don’t know how she’ll absorb the end of her relationship, but I can say for certain that her time spent wasn’t wasted.  None of our time on the Earth ever is.  I hope that we can all remember that the things we experience can be carried forward positively or negatively, but either way, how we carry our experiences from today forward will define tomorrow.

 

Change is a battlefield — 2CEUs

While I know that there are few situations in life that are either on or off, that knowledge doesn’t prevent me from wishing there was a big magic switch with which we could change a person’s behavior by flipping it.  If we want our son to clean his room regularly, we’d flip the switch and, presto: He cleans his room twice a week.  If we want our daughter to do well in math, we’d flip the switch and, voila: She’s a mathematic genius.  If we want our best friend to give up alcohol, we’d flip the switch and shazam: He’s clean of alcohol forever.  If only there were such a switch, then things would be so much easier.  Unfortunately, here in the real world, there’s no magic switch.  Behavioral change takes time, patience, and acceptance; especially as behavioral change pertains to the substance abuse field.

Most of the time, I talk with people who think someone in their lives needs to change.  I’m always melted with the hope and fear they carry.  They want answers and they think that if the someone would just give up whatever adverse behavior, things can go back to normal.  But, it’s not simple and there are no easy answers or methods.  Change is quite possible; I even consider change probable most of the time. But, it’s a process.

One of the many standard models taught within the substance abuse treatment field is called, Stages of Change.  This model encompasses several stages:

  • Precontemplation:  A person has no intention of altering his or her behaviors
  • Contemplation:  A person acknowledges a problem and is considering the possibility of making changes
  • Preparation:  A person is serious about changing and has begun taking small steps towards change
  • Action:  A person has made successful behavior changes
  • Maintenance:  A person preserves their changes and prevents a return to previous, unhealthy behaviors

It’s important to recognize that these stages are neither linear nor do they indicate that a person in one stage won’t recede back into a different stage.  As a matter of fact, when it comes to substance abuse treatment, relapse is the norm, not the exception.  That is, people in recovery will relapse.  It takes several relapses before someone can achieve long term abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

When talking with someone about the need for change, it’s really important to assess where someone is within the stages of change.  If, for example, someone is in the precontemplation stage, it’s going to be difficult to reach him or her.  The reality is that the person in precontemplation doesn’t see a problem.  If no problem exists, there’s nothing to change.  When someone is the contemplation stage, it becomes critical to line up resources for this person such that the need to change is reinforced.  Lining up resources can mean providing educational materials about substances of abuse.  It can mean sharing stories about successful recovery.  Really, the resources can be anything that can help foster an environment of safety without judgment.  As a matter of fact, judging someone harshly at this stage will lead to regression: If someone thinks that he or she is “bad,” then bad is what bad does and forget change.

Most people in early (or no) recovery are in the first two stages.  Once a person is on his or her way within the stages, change becomes a matter of reinforcement: He or she has to continue the healthy changes over and over again.  I think that understanding that people require recognition and awareness of a need to change is a critical aspect of working with anyone who needs to change.  It takes time, patience, and acceptance.  In this life, there are no absolutes.  But, as long as a person is willing to take up the fight, he or she can win.

Like it or not, today shapes tomorrow — 2CEUs

A few days ago, someone said to me in reference to her soon-to-be ex-husband, “I can’t believe I wasted the last four years of my life on him.”

Her statement interested me because I’m not now, nor have I ever been, big on the idea of wasted time.  I really think that our experiences are meant to teach us something that we need to learn in order to move forward on our life’s path so I asked her “Why do think you wasted time?”

“Well,” she said. “In the beginning our marriage, he was really cool and sweet and lovable with me, but that only lasted a year.”

“And then how was he?”

“Lousy.  His drinking started getting worse and worse and then he started cheating on me with strippers.  I stayed with him because I kept hoping that he would go back to the way he was in the beginning. ”

“I’m betting he never did.”

“Nope.  He never did.  Our relationship got worse and worse until I couldn’t take it anymore and now it’s over.  I mean, I still love him, I just can’t take it anymore.”

And there it was: The idea of a thing versus the reality of a thing causing conflict within someone.  In my experience, that tends to be a big part of a person’s high level of stress.  We all do it.  There’s not one of us who hasn’t wanted something to be a certain way, but then in learning that the reality of that something doesn’t mesh with our idea of that something, we become conflicted.  Sadness can then emerge as a result of this inner conflict. Then, within the conflict, the time spent appears as wasted.

But again, to me, there’s no such thing as wasted time.

There’s always something to gain from every situation we encounter on this planet.  Whether any given experience is positive or negative, there’s still something that shapes us and that we can then use as we go forward.  Many people take negative experiences, process them as purely negative, and then project that negativity on other experiences they face, going forward.  In time, those experiences feed more negativity into the person’s worldview and then that person becomes bitter towards all of life and actually seeks to create negativity where there is none.

Rather than become bitter, I would argue that negative time isn’t wasted; rather, I think we should try to reconcile our ideas of things with the realities of things and then find ways we can gain positive lessons from our experiences.  So I asked the woman, “Do you love him or the idea of him?”

“Huh?”

“Well, you have an image of him that was true in the beginning of your marriage, but then became less and less real as time went on.  Is that the person you love or this person?”

“Now that you mention it,” she said.  “It was him of the first year that I love.  I can’t stand this version of him.”

“Well,” I said.  “It’s good that you learned how you like to be treated.  Now that you go forward, you know more about what you’re ‘ok’ with and what you’re not ‘ok’ with.  The time you spent with your ex wasn’t wasted; really, you appear to have become a stronger person because you are now ready to move on from a situation that you cannot accept.”

“I had no choice but to become stronger because I was always alone.”

“Still, you’re stronger now than you were.  You can take this strength with you and use it to make things better in all things in your life.  Or you can become bitter about the hurt you’ve felt.  Either way, the time spent will not have been wasted.  It will have been time spent in informing the rest of your life.”

We soon finished the conversation; she seemed to understand.  I don’t know how she’ll absorb the end of her relationship, but I can say for certain that her time spent wasn’t wasted.  None of our time on the Earth ever is.  I hope that we can all remember that the things we experience can be carried forward positively or negatively, but either way, how we carry our experiences from today forward will define tomorrow.